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Disability board to talk service needs

Staff writer

A Monday meeting in Marion will address needs of developmentally disabled residents.

Harvey-Marion County Community Developmental Disability Organization board of directors will meet at 4 p.m. Monday at Marion Community Center Ballroom, 203 N. 3rd St.

Rep. Don Schroeder, Rep. John Barker, and Sen. Rick Wilborn have been invited to attend the meeting. Schroeder has said he will be there.

The meeting is open to anyone who wants to attend, and public forum will be held.

“We want legislators to hear that we have a long waiting list in Kansas, and we would like them to consider appropriating funding to reduce the waiting list,” Elizabeth Schmidt, executive director of Harvey-Marion County CDDO, said. “People are waiting about seven years. The other message we want them to hear is that an increase in reimbursement rates is long overdue. Rates have been frozen for about 8 years now. Service providers need to be able to give better pay to hire and train quality people. Both of these issues are related to funding, and that’s related to Kansas’ budget picture.”

Schmidt doesn’t believe the state’s funding formula reflects the values of Kansans to care for the vulnerable.

County commissioner Dan Holub, who serves on the CDDO board, said the biggest issue is the 80-person waiting list for services in Marion and Harvey counties.

“These are people with physical, emotional, and mental disabilities,” Holub said. “These people need help. KanCare is doing a pretty poor job of taking care of them.”

Holub said one client’s mother had to argue every month with KanCare to obtain special medications he needs.

“Every month, she spent 10 days to two weeks arguing with KanCare about medication her son needed,” Holub said. “It wouldn’t be until she was within two days of running out that they would finally approve it. She had that argument every month.”

Holub said a couple years ago the state decided to check into how long the waiting list was. They sent letters to people being served, who were for the most part incapable of getting the form back before the deadline.

“That was a bureaucratic effort to get that list reduced, in my opinion,” Holub said. “These are people who really need help. There’s nobody out there but the CDDOs and caregivers working for them.”

Holub said the county has increased its CDDO contribution by $3,000 for 2017 to help offset shortfalls from the state.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said the state is trying to resolve its self-created budget problems by cutting needed services.

“That’s what’s happening,” Dallke said.

According to the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, the state’s 27 CDDOs are the only point of entry for DD services.

“Since 1998, when the last state DD facility closed, the DD waiting lists have exploded,” their website reads. “In 1998 there were approximately 50 people on the waiting lists. Today there are over 4,000 people waiting for services to address their most basic needs.”

Last modified Dec. 14, 2016

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